PENGUINS (16-9-1) at LIGHTNING (16-8-1)
TV: ROOT, SUN
Last 10: Pittsburgh 5-4-1; Tampa Bay 5-4-1
Season series: This is the second of three meetings between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning. Sidney Crosby recorded a hat trick but it was defenseman Matt Niskanen's power-play goal with 18.6 seconds left in regulation that proved decisive in a 5-4 win on Oct. 12 at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Big story: The broken leg suffered earlier this month by Lightning star Steven Stamkos will deny fans another scintillating matchup between him and Crosby, but there still figures to be plenty of offense in this one. Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh each average 2.92 goals per game entering Friday, among the top 10 in the NHL.
Penguins: It was Pittsburgh's other star center who sparked a come-from-behind 6-5 win Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Evgeni Malkin, who went 15 games without a goal earlier in the season, scored a power-play goal in the second period to start the Penguins back from a 4-1 deficit. In the third, he assisted on a power-play goal by James Neal, then scored his second of the game for a 5-5 tie.
The game went to the shootout, where Malkin followed up a Crosby goal with one of his own to clinch the victory. Jeff Zatkoff, who relieved Marc-Andre Fleury early in the second, made 11 saves and two more in the penalty-shot tiebreaker.
"That's not the way we draw it up, but we found a way to stick with it," Crosby said. "I think it's so ugly, it was just so bad, there's no easy way to describe it. Fortunately, we stuck with it, drew some power plays and took advantage of them."
Lightning: Victor Hedman was the No. 2 pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, and in his fifth season in the League, he appears to be taking the next step toward stardom. Hedman, who turns 23 next month, set a career high for goals with his fifth and sixth of the season in his 25th game, sparking a 4-2 win Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Hedman also assisted on a shorthanded goal by Ondrej Palat, and Anders Lindback carried a shutout into the final minutes before allowing a pair of goals 40 seconds apart. Lindback held on for his second win in seven decisions.
"It seems like sometimes you're on the ice and the puck goes in every time," Hedman said. "The bigger thing is to keep believing in myself. You have to keep plugging away. Just keep playing and things are going to come."
Who's hot: Malkin and Neal are sizzling for the Penguins. Malkin has three goals and nine assists during a six-game point streak; Neal has six goals and five assists during a five-game point streak. Crosby has four goals and four assists in the past six games. Chris Kunitz has two goals and five assists in the past five games. ... Teddy Purcell has two goals and two assists in the past two games for the Lightning. Hedman has four goals and four assists in the past seven games.
Injury report: Pittsburgh recently added forwards Beau Bennett (wrist) and Tanner Glass (hand) and defenseman Paul Martin (leg) to an injured reserve list that already included goalie Tomas Vokoun (blood clot), defenseman Rob Scuderi (ankle) and forward Chuck Kobasew (lower body). ... Tampa Bay defenseman Radko Gudas (upper body) and forward Pierre-Cedric Labrie (upper body) are day-to-day. In addition to Stamkos, defenseman Keith Aulie (upper body) and forwards Ryan Malone (foot) and Tom Pyatt (collarbone) are on injured reserve.
|M. St. Louis||26||10||14||24||+5||4||1||2|